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Force Recon, Scout Sniper part 4
Posted By: Helljumper<Pittklipse@aol.com>
Date: 21 July 2004, 3:39 AM

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A future lit by their accomplishments
Their struggles and failures
And most importantly; their hope

For hope is what the Covenant lack
They know not of defeat or despair
And for that, they shall not know victory.


2114 Hours (Military Time), January 25, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ ONI stealth prowler Mystic/ Fross Star System
      Sergeant Deel and Corporal Baker stepped off the lift onto the deck of the small "Hell's Waiting room." The ONI prowler housed two rows of five oval shaped Human Entry Vehicles, ten in total. The Marines continued down the short compartment to the last two drop pods checking their equipment as they walked. Both wore woodland camo BDUs with olive drag equipment belts and load bearing equipment (LBE). The LBE consist of two vertical, padded straps over the shoulders that connect to their equipment belt in the front and back. This disperses the weight of the Marines' ammo, grenades, flares, radio, and med packs. Rucksacks are carried in their hands with their Ghillie suits rolled up and secured at the bottom in black, plastic tubes.
      Green and brown powder coated battle rifles are strapped diagonally across their chests with the butt stocks facing up. Deel's rifle is equipped with a longer than stock scope that could easily be switched between 2x and 4x zoom. Baker opted to remove the lower hand guard and attached a M20G3 .40 mm high explosive (HE) grenade launcher.
      The modified S2 AMSF2 Special Forces sniper rifle is stripped and divided with Deel carrying the receiver, bolt assembly, and the new light weight, folding butt stock. Baker carries the barrel, scope, sling, and bipod. Each part vacuumed sealed in plastic and packed into olive drag gun cases and attached to the side of their rucksacks.
      Scout Snipers always go into battle carrying what the Corps refers to as "light gear." This means without ballistic armor or helmets unlike their Marine sharpshooters counterparts who drop into combat with full gear and fight within a squad. Deel reflected on those days with the 105th Drop Jet Platoon on Jericho VII. Images of the wave after wave of charging Covenant Grunts filled his mind as well as the stream of plasma that ripped through his platoon. The sniper pushed the thought out of his head. They were good men.
      The duo stopped next to Baker's HEV. He knelt on his right leg and attached a two meter long bungee cord to his rucksack and the other end to the ankle part of his drop boots and then another strap two inches below his knee. Standing to his full height, the spotter checked the straps of his rifle to his LBE. The two Force Recon Marines shook hands. "I'll see you on the ground," Sgt Deel said as Baker climbed into his drop pod.
      With Baker secure in his HEV, Deel prepared to enter his. The door to the room slid open getting the Sergeant's attention. Colonel Ackerson stepped onto the deck and commenced starting forward. Deel was impressed with the Marine officer, I've yet to see a single wrinkle in his uniform.
      When Ackerson was three meters away, Deel snapped to attention and saluted. To his surprise, the officer didn't return his salute but instead extended an open hand. The Marines shook hands. As if reading the Drop Shock's mind, Ackerson said, "I just wanted to check on my troopers." Sgt. Deel responded with a truthful thank you.
      "Remember Sergeant, this is just a recon mission. You have the data pad right?" Ackerson asked followed by the NCO patting the pouch attached to his equipment belt.       "Good. The name of the game is stealth but I don't have to tell you that. That's what we pay you Force Recon guys for. The data pad has a list of all the relative information we want about the enemy cruiser's exterior defenses and the code word for each piece. I suggest that once you reach your firing position, just review the list and familiarize yourself with the code words."
"Yes sir," a simple answer from a simple man.
"Oh before I forget, pay extra attention to the code words governor and mayor. If you see a governor," he paused for a second. "Take the shot. If you see a governor and mayor together, take both shots. A mayor alone isn't worth the shot. This goes above all other recon data. Radio in the situation; take the shot or shots, and fallback to the designated extraction zone for immediate retrieval. Do you understand what I have just told you Sergeant?"
"Aye, aye sir."
"Good luck Marine and come back in one piece, I might have other assignments for you."
      Sergeant Deel nodded trying not to laugh at the term 'assignment' like this was homework or a school project. He watched as Ackerson exited the drop room before turning back to his HEV. Adjusting the holster strapped to his upper thigh for his black powder coated M6D pistol, minus the 2x zone, the Drop Shock expertly climbed into his 'egg' and sealed the hatch.
      The small flat screen monitor positioned six inches from his nose snapped to life revealing a count down starting at fifty seconds. That was more than enough time for the ten second procedure of securing his harness, running the systems check, remove safeties, arm the ejection tube, and brace his boots against the bulkhead. This left Erik with forty seconds to contemplate the random assortment of thoughts that entered his mind. He reflected on his night with Miranda and her beauty, and then shifted to the Colonel's last minute briefing, and finally stopping on the dangers that accompanied HEV drops. This would be his thirty first or was it thirty second combat drop. He stopped counting after so many missions as they all started to blur together in his memory. All his drops occurred without incident to himself, but he knew many other Helljumpers who bought the farm from enemy anti-aircraft fire or whose parachutes failed to deploy. Drop Shocks couldn't... didn't have the luxury of contemplating these forms of death. They all volunteered to be Helljumpers and wearing the golden comet patch came at a cost.
      Deel came out of his private thoughts to see a zero appear on the curvilinear status screen. There was a sudden explosion as the drop pod blasted out of the drop tube. The Sergeant's body slammed against his five point harness. He gripped the seatbelt with all his might as the HEV cleared the prowler and fell towards the planet below. A moment of weightlessness followed as Deel free fell through the planet's upper atmosphere.
      The temperature started to raise steady at first but at a point it increased drastically. The status screen read 101 degrees then it started to shake violently along with the rest of the 'egg.' It flipped end over end twice before balancing out. All the Drop Shock inside could do was hold on and pray. He only had control of two functions of the pod, deploying the emergency parachute and detaching himself from the pod when the time came, but they were of no use now.
      The high velocity and the high temperatures that followed started tearing away at the pod's first layer of ceramic skin. The first chute deployed and rapidly decelerating the pod. Deel's body jerked against his harness from the rapid deceleration and accelerated again as the chute broke away, but that was its purpose.
      The second skin peeled away like an orange revealing the light weight Titanium A alloy crash cage and the Marine inside. Cool air rushed all around the Drop Shock as his HEV passed through the clouds. The second chute deployed but this time stayed slowing his fall. The status screen displayed his altitude in meters as it decreased. A blink appeared on the radar signal coming from the Mystic revealing an object moving towards him. The computer identified it as Corporal Baker's pod.
      Seventy five meters from the drop zone, Deel flipped a switch with his thumb. An explosive charge disconnected the straps of the parachute followed by a second of freefall before a second explosion blew the top hatch of the HEV. The fold down chair that the Drop Shock is strapped to slide out of the pod. Clear of the pod and at fifty meters from the ground the Marine pulled his last chute. This was a perfect two-point landing... if it was actually on solid land.
      The black outline of the lake below came into view as the waves broke against the shore. The loud crash of the empty HEV hitting the water broke the silence and it rapidly began to sink. Looking down, Deel could see the rucksack hanging from his ankle as it sank into the water followed by his legs and then the rest of his body. He held his breath until the air trapped between the surface of the lake and the chute caused the chute to float. The sniper pulled the quick release tab on his harness while keeping a grip on the harness. Using his upper body strength, he pulled on the straps, forcing the chute under the water. Like a blur his hands reached for the breathing device attached to his LBE. He ripped off the plastic cover and stuffed the mouthpiece into his mouth. Oxygen filled his lungs. He started kicking his legs, propelling himself up.
      Another two crashes and Baker was under the water starting the unclipping procedure. Both made eye contact as they swam to the surface unstrapping their weapons from across their chest.
      A dark head emerged from the water causing circular ripples to rush away. A scope appears followed by the rifle's barrel. The figure holding the weapon sweeps left and right scanning the tree line for any movement. Another figure emerges three meters away doing the same thing. Water flows out of the large diameter of the second figure's grenade launcher attached to his weapon.
      They move forward onto the shore and quickly into the woods. Stopping thirty meters into the woods, the Marines stop and disconnect their rucksacks from their ankles and pulled them onto their backs. Checking all gear, they begin walking more into the forest until they are sure that the Covenant aren't approaching or already present.

2129 Hours (Military Time), January 25, 2553 (Military Calendar)/ ONI stealth prowler Mystic/ Fross Star System

      Colonel Ackerson stepped unto to the bridge after stopping at his office. Strolling up to Captain Kara Manu he stopped by her command chair. While looking straight ahead out the bridge window, at the planet that took up half of the view, he spoke. "What's the status on our package Captain?"
"Camera's show that they landed in the lake as planned. A large cloud formation moved into our view. They should be reporting in any minute."
      As if on cue, the communications officer signaled for their attention. Captain Manu told the ensign to put it on loud speak. A rough, out of breath voice boomed through the speakers. "This is Foxtrot Romeo to TACCOM. We are GO over."
      Ackerson smiled to himself but the facial expression vanished before anyone could see. All is going to plan.